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Interior work set to begin on MSG Sphere

Updated August 23, 2021 - 4:00 pm

Construction crews working on the $1.9 billion MSG Sphere at The Venetian project will continue to install the exterior LED lighting system and begin work on interior features of the 17,500-seat performance venue, company officials said Monday.

“We completed the structural steel for the main venue,” Andy Lustgarten, president of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Monday morning .

“Over the next 12 months, we intend to complete the roof concrete and the venue’s exterior facade as we continue to make progress on the interior buildout and pedestrian bridge,” he said. “We also plan to move forward on the building’s exosphere.”

Ninety percent of the structural steel has been manufactured for the project and 95 percent of the concrete is procured, company officials said. The company is keeping watch on its supply chain, especially for alternative sources for semiconductors for the interior sound and video systems.

MSG Entertainment is developing the project, expected to be completed in 2023, with Las Vegas Sands Corp. Sands’ partnership role is expected to be assumed by New York-based Apollo Global Management Inc. and Vici Properties Inc. when their $6.25 billion acquisition of The Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo Center is completed late this year or in early 2022.

“Inside the venue is where we will use state-of-the-art technology to create first-of-their-kind immersive experiences and this coming year we’ll increase our focus on developing this content for Sphere,” Lustgarten said.

For the quarter that ended June 30, the company reported a net loss of $119.8 million, $4.87 a share, on revenue of $99.8 million. That compares with net income of $120.1 million, $5.27 a share, on revenue of $9 million in the same quarter in 2020.

Revenue produced this fiscal year included about $28 million from Hakkasan properties. MSG Entertainment’s Tao Group Hospitality subsidiary announced the acquisition of the Hakkasan group on April 28 for an undisclosed price.

The newly combined company operates 61 entertainment dining and nightlife venues in 22 markets across five continents and features a collection of widely recognized hospitality brands, including Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Beauty & Essex, Avenue, Cathédrale and Koma, as well as Hakkasan Group’s Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Omnia, Ling Ling, Jewel and Casa Calavera brands .

“Tao’s presence, which was significantly expanded with the Hakkasan acquisition, will be important to the MSG Sphere at the Venetian,” Lustgarten said.

Lustgarten said MSG is positioning itself to become active in sports wagering in New York.

The company has maintained several alliances with sports-betting companies and has partnerships with the New York Knicks of the NBA and the New York Rangers of the NHL, both of which play in Madison Square Garden.

If sports betting is legalized in New York, which could occur early next year, the company may move forward in developing a stake in gaming with one of the companies seeking a license.

It’s unclear whether MSG or any of its partners would pursue gaming in Nevada.

MSG Entertainment shares, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, closed up $10.12, 16.2 percent, to $72.55 a share on Monday in volume more than twice the daily average.

After hours, the stock climbed further by 35 cents, 0.5 percent, to end at $72.90 a share.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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